Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This Ain't No Dress Rehearsal

Sometimes I look around at my life -- my wonderful, blessed life -- and can't seem to see myself in it. Like I'm playing this part and it's only that -- a scripted, acted story with a real person lurking underneath. Waiting for the curtain to fall so she can go back to her real life.

It doesn't make any sense. After all, this life has been my dream. My fantasy. The one thing I always wanted to do when I grew up was be a wife and mother. Take care of my family. It's perfect, but at the same time I feel like I don't know myself in this role. Like I haven't settled into it yet.

I've seen my days as a mother in swatches of time: breakfast time, activity time, lunch time, nap time, time to relax, time to make dinner, bath time, bed time. And it works because it has to; the other option is chaos. Raising children doesn't come as naturally to me as I always assumed it would. The crushing love and adoration for my children, yes -- that came naturally. But without ordering my days around times and plans, I would be lost. Confused. Not for long, though. I'd be right back to ordered days before I let myself flounder out into irretrievable chaos.'s not how I always want it. I want my days to be clusters of light and color. I want them to be folds of soft fabric and stretches of textured upholstery. I want the days to evolve and excite and awaken my desire for spontaneity. I want days that are filled with discovery and blown through with fresh winds of creativity. I want my days to jump out at me as memories and ideas and I want to grow children who savor those days. Not merely hop from lunch time to nap time.

Oh, I know. I know that within my ordered days there doesn't have to be a dearth of color and texture, but it seems harder to achieve than I would have thought.

And there it is again: I don't yet know this role. I haven't figured out how to tickle joy from under its belly and extract newness from the ordinary. At least not all the time. I have my moments of inspiration, true. It just feels selfish of me to want life's experiences to be constantly colorful. Constantly entertaining on a soulful level.

Maybe it shouldn't be about me wanting more life in my life, but about me seeing my life for what it really is and noticing the beauty in it. The fun of it.

A marker-colored face can be artistic and hilarious, rather than just a frustrating mess to be erased. A scary midnight dream can be a sweet moment of snuggling and story telling, rather than just a groggy chore. A wild and crazy toddler can be a lens through which I notice life's joys -- like how satisfying a ripped paper can be or how good it feels to let your body show your excitement with an unchoreographed dance.

In whatever situation I can imagine in my awkward role as mother and teacher and comforter and all-around-servant, I have got to believe that I'll fit into it someday. Someday I'll look around and feel comfortable with my surroundings. Someday.

I just hope I can see the joy and beauty of motherhood right now through my foggy vision. Even if I still don't know how to play the role to perfection. Even if I still have to consult the script for a little help now and then.

Because I'd hate to look back when I do feel comfortable, and realize I've squandered the best gig around.


  1. I don't have any advice to offer, but I do understand how you feel. I get bogged down by the routine of mothering and forget to find the joy. Then, we take the kids on a trip or something and leave all our routines behind, and I realize I'm desperate to get back. It's hard to find balance, but I think the way you're feeling is probably really normal. The very fact that you *want* to be a conscious, joyful mother probably means you're ahead of the game. Besides, the way you write about motherhood tells me that you're experiencing the feelings you're craving on a certain level, even if you're cringing about messes at the same time. Maybe you should plan a special, silly afternoon for you and the girls one day, just to break out of the routine for a while.

  2. Because I'd hate to look back when I do feel comfortable, and realize I've squandered the best gig around.

    This is how I feel all the time!!

  3. I'm with ya! Sometimes all of our days seem to run together in a big ball of routine. I just wish I knew how to change that without completely abandoning my role as housekeeper.

  4. I read this yesterday, and marked it unread, and reread it, and marked it unread, and reread it again. I knew I wanted to comment-- I'm just not sure what I want to say. We all feel that way sometimes. I feel that way a lot now, while I'm home with the baby. There's so much to caring for a baby in terms of giving love and care, but there's so little for my mind... and does it sound terrible to say that sometimes I'm bored? But he'll only be this tiny and dependent for such a brief time and I don't want to wander through that time in a distracted way. It's hard, it's always hard. We all just need to do the best we can, remind each other of that fact, and give ourselves some slack.

  5. i think for me mothering babies comes easy but parenting children is hard! I never know what I am doing.

  6. I can't believe it's my life either! It's surreal to be living my dream. And it is frustrating when I am unable to live up to my own ideals. I continue to strive to revel in every moment, and I find the more my life is devoted to God, instead of myself, the better it gets.

  7. I remember this feeling. I've used similar words, "Waiting for my real life to begin, this seems like a dress rehearsal."

    You are on to the secret though. It is already in front of you, you are just still learning to see it. I hides in the corners and moments, rich and full and multicolored. That you wrote this means you are starting to see it and embrace it. It won't feel strange for long. :)

    Also, put into your routines moments to just be. Read stories that capture your imagination, not just that your kids like.make space for conversations. They will always surprise you. Sing songs and listen/dance to music that you enjoy. No one ever said it had to be all about the kids. ;)

  8. Right on.

    It's funny, I couldn't have said it better if I'd have written it myself! (Even down the sequence of events for each day!)

  9. I LOVE your blog, and your way of expressing yourself. I espeically love this post, because I feel the same way sometimes too. I remember feeling that way even more when my oldest two were younger. The first thought that comes to mind is that it's very difficult to be so spontanious and creative when we are so sleep-deprived, hormonal, and emotionally drained as we are in the sippy-cups and diapers and tantrums and constant demands stage of life. I think it gets a little easier when you get to the stage when you get most nights of uninterrupted sleep and a little bit of time when the kids learn to play without your direct interaction. I hope so, anyway.


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?